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Stand with Raue, again

Lane Sainty reports on the latest institution trying to get rid of Tom Raue.

Photograph by Judy Zhu.
Photograph by Judy Zhu.
Photograph by Judy Zhu.

The ‘Stand With Raue’ campaign has undergone an unexpected revival after USU Vice-President and activist Tom Raue was handed a campus ban for participating in a protest.

Raue was part of a band of students who took part in an impromptu protest against Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on May 18. The protesters, targeting Bishop due to the changes to tertiary education outlined in the recent federal budget, jostled and chanted at her as she entered MacLaurin Hall in the Quadrangle. Several heated scuffles broke out between campus security guards and protesters.

Raue received a letter on May 23 from Campus Security Unit Manager Morgan Andrews, stating he was banned from campus for one month due to his part in the protest. The letter describes two aspects of Raue’s conduct as “not acceptable to the University”, including “attempting to physically force your way through security and police officers” and “allegedly punch[ing] a Campus Security Officer in the face”.

Raue believes he was singled out for a campus ban due to his prominence as an activist. “It is clear that I was singled out since there were about 20 people who did nothing differently to me at the protest,” he said. “Police and campus security also see me as a ringleader for activism on campus. They don’t understand that activists tend to work collectively without a hierarchy.”

The letter states Raue’s alleged punching of a security officer was under investigation from NSW police. However, a police media spokeswoman confirmed to Honi Soit that Raue was not under investigation and no charges had been laid against him.

Raue said he contacted the University to get the ban repealed, but his request for review was denied. “[Campus security] don’t say who reviewed it or what the process was,” he said. He also said he had not been provided with evidence from the University regarding the allegation that he punched a security officer.

Raue is well known on campus due to the highly publicised attempt to remove him from the USU Board of Directors, an event that inspired the initial Stand With Raue campaign. Since Raue received the letter, the campaign has risen again in an attempt to get his ban revoked.

A rally in support of Raue took place on May 28. Approximately 80 students gathered in the Quadrangle to hear from various speakers. The rally marched a short distance to Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence’s office and, after some difficulty, inserted a declaration of intent into Spence’s office door. The group also plans to march on the Sydney University Senate on Monday June 3 (after this paper goes to print).

Member of the Stand With Raue campaign Tim Scriven said other future actions are a possibility. “At [Monday’s] meeting a letter will be delivered outlining plans to occupy the quad unless the persecution of Tom and others is dropped,” they said.

Although Raue had deferred his studies for the semester, the ban has meant he is unable to attend his work as a Board Director and must phone in to meetings, which causes several logistical hurdles. “I have already missed an event where I was supposed to meet with university admin on behalf of the USU,” he said. The ban is almost exactly the length of time Raue has remaining on Board.

Raue also said he believes the ban is political. “It interferes with the running of the USU, and discourages activists from protesting in future because people will fear for their studies/livelihood.”